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WIVB-TV Takes a Rating Hit on Bills Game, News

How much did the dispute between Time Warner Cable and LIN TV hurt viewership for the Buffalo Bills 41-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals Sunday on Channel 4, the local CBS affiliate?

The game averaged about a 20.4 rating Sunday, which is most likely slightly more than half of what it would have gotten if it had been carried on cable and not just over-the-air, on satellite, via antennas and on Verizon's new FiOS service.

The drop was predictable since TWC services more than 50 percent of area households.

Of course, Nielsen doesn't count viewerships in bars. And all the additional people watching at the houses of friends with alternative ways of getting the game didn't count, either.

Channel 4's local news -- which normally is No. 1 -- took a big hit Friday night, too. Its 6 p.m. news averaged a 4.8 rating, placing it a poor third to first place Channel 2 (10.5) and second place Channel 7 (6.9).

At 11 p.m. Channel 4 also finished a weak third, averaging a 4.1 to Channel 2's 8.9 and Channel 7's 7.3.

CBS' prime time programming took on similar hits, though "Ghost Whisperer" managed to win its 8 p.m. Friday time period with a 4.7 rating.

One thing is clear. The longer this goes on, the more likely that Channel 4's top-rated newscast will be damaged.

-- Alan Pergament

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